Is there any dependency on thought for the existence of life ? (Dependency without which life would not come into existence.)

Another related question : Does craving for thought lead to craving for existence ?

  • would you mind adding some more informations to this question,looks like a very good q,however its a litle too broad,do you accept illustration from hinduism?this is a very debated topic
    – user13064
    Jun 10, 2018 at 19:22
  • @InnerFire This site is meant to be for "people practicing or interested in Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice". Answers based on Hinduism rather than Buddhism would be implicitly off-topic on this site, and likely to be deleted. The OP can post on Hinduism.SE if they want answers based on Hinduism.
    – ChrisW
    Jun 10, 2018 at 19:38
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    "Bhava" ("existence"; "becoming") in Buddhism refers to "ego-existence". Therefore, thoughts lead to ego-existence but not to material existence. This materialistic question is not related to Buddhism, which teaches: "The craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming: This, friend Visakha, is the origination of self-identification described by the Blessed One. MN 44". Jun 11, 2018 at 1:15
  • @Dhammadhatu you mean to say cessation of existence means cessation of craving for existence or non existence? If that is case the does craving for thought lead to craving for existence ? Jun 12, 2018 at 5:32

5 Answers 5


Thoughts exist and lives exist and sentient beings exist. These phenomena are mutually dependent and a first cause cannot be found. This whole phenomenal world is bound up with infinite sets of mutually dependent causes and conditions that are utterly suffused with relative and co-dependent existence. It is not the case that:

"In the beginning, a thought came into existence and dependent upon that life came into existence."

This is not how it is! No beginning can be found or ascertained.

If one looks at "thought" it can be known that "thought" cannot be contemplated without first depending upon "life" and "life" cannot be thought of without first depending upon "thought." They are mutually dependent and along with them whole infinite sets of relative causes and conditions that together conjure up this phenomenal world.

  • In the dependent origination when does the thought originate ? Jun 11, 2018 at 14:11
  • This link gives a teaching on personalizing the twelve links which identifies the eighth link 'craving' as, "While feeling (7) is like an itch that we can’t even identify, much less scratch, craving is the constant thought that responds to that feeling, thinking, “I’d like to have this, go there, do that.” ... now there are many commentaries on the twelve links, but perhaps you will find this helpful: fpmt.org/mandala/online-features/… Jun 11, 2018 at 14:32

Dependant on Karmically potent thoughts, birth occurs. But not all thoughts are Karmically potent.


Existence in the rebirth cycle is due to ignorance. Thoughts either good/bad arises due to ignorance. Nirvana is a state where delusion/ignorance is completely destroyed. Hence the thoughts of a person who has achieved nirvana are netural. And does not crave for another existance.


The crave for existence leads to existence.

  • Long answers are not necessarily better. While I understand your point, I would also like to see if "long answers" are mandatory for all questions in this forum. If so, I will respectfully follow the rules in my future answers. Thank you. Jun 11, 2018 at 5:50
  • How can craving for existence exist without existence? IOW, doesn't existence have to exist first before craving for existence to exist?? Jun 11, 2018 at 13:33
  • That crave is not based on thought. That crave will lead to manifestation in the Sahā-lokadhātu. This manifestation is called "existence". Existence is represented by the 5 Skandhas, which, thought is one of them. Jun 12, 2018 at 2:20
  • my questions said nothing of "thought"... rather, you say that "crave for existence leads to existence" and I'm asking how "crave for existence" can exist first before "existence" itself exists? You are positing a cause and effect relationship between the two: crave for existence comes first and it causes existence. However, to say that crave for existence comes first is to say that crave for existence exists first without existence... this is a contradiction. For how can something exist - craving - without depending upon existence? Jun 12, 2018 at 13:09
  • Thought does not create existence. Anyway, your question is somewhat similar to those that the Buddha did not answer. Hence, I will not further comment on this thread. Thank you. Jun 13, 2018 at 2:11

If author aims to get an answer in terms of existence of all life, then the answer is No, thought does not lead to existence. Nor it is required for existence.

For the very fact that plants or bacteria are not self-conscious, but rather simply conscious, and they are considered life. They are able to concur with each other, but without conscious processes and self-awareness, and facility of conceptualisation.

Everything with DNA is considered life that exists.

Thought is, however, required to perceive existence of life and concept of existence of life, it is an abstract term in the realm of mental objects. So, in this context, Yes, but it is dependant.

Overall, just because something does not exist, manifest or can be perceived at this very moment, does not mean that it doesn't exist at all.

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